A phobia is an irrational fear of something. A person with a phobia avoids the thing that triggers their anxiety, or they experience distress while they are around it.
Hemophobia is an extreme fear of blood. Most people feel disgusted, light-headed, or uneasy when they see blood. Hemophobia occurs when these feelings of anxiety are persistent and inhibit the person's life in some way.
The type of blood does not necessarily matter. Someone with hemophobia will feel anxious when they see a person or an animal bleed. They may feel symptoms at seeing small amounts of blood, even single drops or when having blood drawn in a clinic.
Blood Phobia, Hematophobia
Extreme fear of blood
Classification of Hemophobia
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides the clinical definitions of different phobias. It regards all phobias as being anxiety disorders.
An anxiety disorder is a mental disorder that causes excessive worry. It is okay for someone to experience fear on occasion. An anxiety disorder is different because a person experiences significant trouble from their feelings.
They may be unable to complete their work or tend to personal responsibilities. They may feel pain, shortness of breath, or an extreme headache.
Within the subcategory of phobias, the DSM-5 categorizes "specific phobias." These are phobias of particular things, not general experiences.
The clinical name for hemophobia is "blood-injection-injury phobia." In addition to blood, someone may feel anxiety when they see an injury or a needle injection.
Things that look similar to blood like red paint or food dye can also cause a reaction. Watching a movie where someone bleeds may result in symptoms, though this isn't always the case.
Signs and Symptoms of Hemophobia
Each person with hemophobia is different. Yet there are some common signs that people should be familiar with.
A child with hemophobia may become very upset. They may throw a temper tantrum with excessive crying and screaming.
They may shut down and cling to their friend or parent. They may try to leave the area where the blood is, hiding under a piece of furniture.
A child's face may become red and their breathing may rise rapidly. They may be unable to focus on their work or games after exposure to blood. Some children may perspire or feel pain in their chest.
A child may be able to articulate what is giving them anxiety. But some children may not be able to pinpoint their fear. An adult may believe that they are afraid of getting injured, not of blood in particular.
Adults with hemophobia may respond to blood similarly to children. They may begin to cry uncontrollably, or they may run away from an area with blood in it.
Someone may experience numerous physical symptoms. In addition to chest pain and difficulty breathing, they may start to shake. They may have trouble speaking.
Some adults experience a vasovagal response. Once they see blood, their heart rate and blood drop rapidly. This can induce extreme dizziness and may result in fainting.
A person may experience emotional symptoms alongside physical ones. They may feel detached from themselves, as though they are going through an out-of-body experience. They may become afraid that they will die, or they may feel an extreme sense of powerlessness.
Nearly all symptoms of hemophobia overlap with other mental health conditions. A person may have post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder.
Risks Associated with Hemophobia
Someone who has hemophobia may not experience extreme duress. They may see blood only on occasion, and they have significant symptoms then. Yet there are concrete risks that the phobia can cause.
Someone may go out of their way to avoid the sight of blood. They may avoid locations where blood is, namely hospitals and doctors' offices.
They may miss medical appointments because they are so anxious about blood. If they go to an appointment, they may refuse to get blood tests done. This can cause the potential ailments they have to worsen.
Some people may avoid any situation where they could lose blood. They may stop driving or walking near roadways so they avoid car accidents. They may avoid playing sports, especially contact ones.
If someone bleeds near the person with hemophobia, they may refrain from helping them. They may become unable to perform first aid or summon medical assistance. This can cause the injured person's bleeding to become worse, possibly leading to death.
A fainting spell can cause significant injuries in itself. A person may strike their head on the floor and receive a concussion. They may break a bone or twist a joint as they fall.
Causes of Hemophobia
There are many different causes of hemophobia. It may be hard for someone to trace the causes of their hemophobia. Understanding a few potential causes may help with treatment and prevention.
A 2018 study examined more than 12,600 people with anxiety disorders. It compared the genetic codes of these people against 19,000 individuals without disorders.
The study found that several genes are associated with phobias in people, such as the PDE4B gene. The PDE4B regulates brain signals and hormones that affect a person's mood. If the gene malfunctions, a person feels less pleasure and more anxiety.
As many as 28% of anxiety disorders may have genetic roots in them. This is a rough estimate, as doctors are continuing to identify genes.
A person with parents who have phobias is more likely to have phobias themselves. This does not mean that a child will share the phobias of their parents. They may have different fears, or they have different symptoms for the same fears.
Parenting can impact the development of hemophobia in several ways. Many children learn by watching their parents. If they see their parents are afraid of blood, they may mimic their fear.
Some parents are overly protective of their children. This renders a child dependent on their parents.
When their parents become injured, the dependency may make them incredibly anxious. They may become afraid of blood because it jeopardizes their dependency.
A child may not learn about blood. The first time they see it, they may assume that they or someone else is dying. Their lack of knowledge may ingrain fear into their mind.
Many people assume that fear comes from a particular trauma. A traumatic incident may be one factor in the development of hemophobia.
A child may get injured so badly that they lose a significant amount of blood. They may need to go to the hospital and receive surgery. This experience may be enough to spark the fear of blood in their mind.
Witnessing someone else get injured can also be traumatic. Seeing a parent or loved one get into a car accident or robbed or any number of situations, can be triggering enough. Going through a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or public shooting can provoke hemophobia.
Blood can be an encouraging symbol to some people. The term, "blood bond," refers to a connection between two close family members.
But for many other people, blood is a symbol of disaster and pain. Media depictions of blood usually rely on this symbolic code.
News reports on natural disasters use words like "bloodshed" to suggest extreme damage. Many reports about murders and assaults show photographs of bloodstains and blood trails. The majority of horror stories rely on vivid descriptions of blood and gore to make someone scared.
Some religious groups regulate contact with blood. Jewish kosher laws prohibit observant Jews from ingesting blood. Jehovah's Witnesses cannot receive blood transfusions.
These depictions can stoke fear, especially in young children. They can lead young people to believe that they should avoid blood without considering its potential benefits.
Treatment of Hemophobia
A person who believes they have hemophobia should go to their doctor. A description of their symptoms and overall health may be enough for a diagnosis. Once they get a formal diagnosis, they can begin treatment.
The applied tension technique is specifically for people with hemophobia. People who experience lightheadedness or fainting spells when they see blood should use it.
When they feel symptoms, they should sit in a chair and tense their muscles. They should hold the tension in their body until they feel warmth in their head or face. They can then relax their body for 20 seconds before repeating.
Relaxation can help anyone who experiences any type of anxiety. People find different things relaxing. Some people like to sit and rest, while other people like to exercise.
A person with hemophobia should commit to relaxing for a significant period of time every day. They should try out a few different relaxation techniques to ensure variety.
Exposure therapy is the most infamous treatment for phobias. A person sits down with a therapist to discuss their fear in detail.
They may talk about traumatic events they have experienced with blood. A therapist may ask them to visualize blood and describe their experience with it. In some cases, the therapist may show the patient blood and ask them to confront their fear.
The person can stop the therapy if they are feeling extremely anxious. The therapist will monitor them and stop the therapy if they show extreme signs of distress.
The point of exposure therapy is to allow an individual to confront their fear. They will come to terms with it and learn that blood does not have to be scary.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps someone with their fear in several ways. They recognize the thought patterns that lead them to their fear. They may think that bleeding will always cause death, which is not the case.
They then work to change that pattern. A therapist may give them statistics about bleeding. The therapist may help them come up with ways of coping around bleeding.
CBT is good for people who prefer online therapy. They can sit with a therapist and receive instructions over an Internet feed. They can also get help for several mental health conditions at once.
There is no medication specific to hemophobia. But taking anti-anxiety medications can help reduce symptoms. Common medications include benzodiazepines.
Medications are usually the last resort for people due to their side effects. Anyone who takes an anti-anxiety pill should follow their doctor's instructions for it. Taking the wrong pill or forgetting to take a dose can cause symptoms to resurface.
Nearly all people with hemophobia can manage their symptoms. Some people can receive a complete cure, especially young people.
Desisting from certain foods and drinks can help as well. Drinking coffee can spike the heart rate and encourage anxiety. Switching to coffee alternatives can mitigate these effects.
Hemophobia is an excessive fear of blood. Someone may be afraid of blood itself, or they may feel anxiety when they see an injury.
Symptoms amongst children include temper tantrums, a desire to flee, and clinging to family members. Symptoms amongst adults can include fainting spells, which can cause physical injuries. Someone may delay medical treatments to avoid blood.
All individuals with hemophobia can get help. They can speak to a psychiatrist and go on a regimen of anti-anxiety medications.
Regardless of what stage your therapy is in, whether it's the discovery/diagnosis phase, talk therapy phase or medication phase, Insurdinary is here to help. We offer insurance products which cover psychiatry, psychology and counselling. Find your perfect quote. We look forward to working with you.